Advice for Advocates:
Protecting Teen Victims
We can all remember…the excitement of that first crush, having someone really like you, wondering what it was like to be 'in love,' and that time when hormones meet adrenalin … and it can be scary! In today's environment, the innocent dating rituals of times past are often foregone for just 'hanging out,' 'hooking up' or having a good time. If it involves the Internet (unsupervised), drugs or alcohol, the risk increases and our teens are more vulnerable.
Educating ourselves and then potential victims and their parents about the 'red flags' of teen dating abuse may decrease the risk to those we want to protect. Some of the more common "Signs of a Batterer" include:
- PUSHES FOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone." An abuser pressures the partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
- JEALOUS: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone;" checks the mileage on your car.
- CONTROLLING: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you're late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere.
- UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his or her every need.
- ISOLATION: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of "causing trouble." May deprive you of a phone or car, or try to prevent you from holding a job.
- BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS OR MISTAKES: It's always someone else's fault if something goes wrong.
- MAKES OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OR HER FEELINGS: The abuser says "You make me angry," instead of "I am angry," or says, "You're hurting me by not doing what I tell you."
- HYPERSENSITIVITY: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just a part of life.
- CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR CHILDREN: Kills or punishes animals brutally. May expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner also abuse children.
- "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE DURING SEX: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.
- VERBAL ABUSE: Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may involve sleep deprivation, waking you with relentless verbal abuse.
- RIGID GENDER ROLES: Expects you to serve, obey, remain at home.
- SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
- PAST BATTERING: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person "made" him (or her) do it.
- THREATS OF VIOLENCE: Says things like, "I'll break your neck," or "I'll kill you," and then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way," or, "I didn't really mean it."
~~ whoever said 'words don't hurt,' never got hit with a dictionary ~~
By keeping our eyes open and our minds informed, we can be of great assistance in recognizing serious problems perhaps before they become crimes. We can perhaps prevent one more victim from needing our services. Our ultimate goal, in essence, is to put ourselves 'out of business.'
Send your comments and stress relief tips to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is submitted by Dr. Jennie Barr, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the Crime Victim Services Division.